By Matt Murphy
State House News Service
---- — MEDFORD - Attorney General Martha Coakley threw herself headlong into the 2014 race for governor yesterday morning, discussing economic growth and education as she embarked on a campaign to wash out the sour taste of her 2010 U.S. Senate defeat.
Coakley made the first of six planned stops around Massachusetts at Dempsey’s Breakfast and Lunch in her hometown of Medford, showing up just before 8 a.m. with her husband Thomas O’Connor to greet morning diners before fielding questions about her new endeavor, acknowledging a “long, hard primary” ahead.
She plans to be at Carleens coffee shop in Lawrence tomorrow at 11 a.m.
“I think that I am ready to both lead and listen to people in Massachusetts about what they want. I know we want to continue moving the economy forward, giving people economic opportunity, improving our educational system,” she said. “I’m going to do that as governor and I’m going to work every day to earn people’s respect and their vote.”
Coakley endorsed an extended school day, calling it “time to do that” after more than 15 years of discussion, and said “we’re going to take a look at everything” when it comes to paying for the program, including public-private partnerships. She said the state must work toward “better synergy” between government and the business and innovation sectors, applauding the decision by legislative leaders to repeal a new sales tax on software design services.
The other Democrats in the race for governor have kept low profiles on the campaign trail since their initial announcements, focusing instead on the less public aspects of running for statewide office like raising money, recruiting volunteers and building support with the party.
So far, the only Republican in the race is businessman Charlie Baker. The Massachusetts GOP immediately attacked Coakley, accusing her of making the decision to run for governor based on polls and advice from consultants, while ignoring voters and her party’s grassroots activists.
Coakley has teamed up with Northwind Strategies for her campaign, surrounding herself with many of the same individuals behind Gov. Deval Patrick’s rise in 2006 and reelection in 2010, including Doug Rubin and Kyle Sullivan. Rubin said Coakley’s campaign will be about bringing her message directly to voters and engaging the grassroots. Former Patrick spokesman Alex Goldstein planned to accompany Coakley on Monday’s campaign swing.
Her decision to focus on the economy and education as her initial priorities also led Treasurer Steven Grossman to declare himself the only candidate with a record in economic development arena.
Coakley released a slick, two-minute video depicting scenic views from around the state and footage of the attorney general meeting with and talking to voters, including teachers, hospital workers and cops, as she discussed in a voiceover how they have inspired her political career.
The video and the three-day barnstorming tour appear to counter the criticism she faced after her embarrassing 2010 loss to Republican Scott Brown in the race to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. During the campaign, she famously made a comment mocking the idea that she would stand outside of Fenway in the cold to shake hands in a gaffe that reverberated all the way to the White House.
“Look, we’ve acknowledged, I’ve acknowledged that we made mistakes on that campaign trail and I’ve learned from that,” Coakley said. “I got right back to work in the AG’s office; I got right back out shaking hands and meeting people in order to run for Attorney General.”